Perhaps the only political prediction bound to come true this year is that the words ôelectric restructuringö will reverberate in nearly every stateÆs legislative chamber.
So says Matthew Brown, director of the energy project at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
But other factors support BrownÆs prediction. Public Utilities FortnightlyÆs informal survey of most states turned up similar results. Legislators know that the Clinton Administration and the U.S. Congress plan to introduce a federal bill this year. If stateside players donÆt jump in now, they may be pushed in later, the thinking goes.
There are at least eight states to bet on for new restructuring lawsùwith the usual political caveat that anything that can change will. Five states are in the Northeast; three are in the Central U.S.
Of course, other states have a long, quirky chance of deregulating. Pennsylvania, after all, took many by surprise when it enacted comprehensive electric restructuring legislation last Dec. 3 (becoming the fourth state to do so).
But take Nevada. If state Sen. Randolph J. Townsend (R) gets his way, he will restructure the Public Service Commission along with the utility industry. ôTheyÆll both be different when we get done,ö predicts Townsend.
The eight states chosen by Fortnightly were selected for the relative maturity of their commission efforts, special legislative committees and the reports issued by them. The reason being: States that have come this far are likely to be 1997 hot spots.
Besides the usual issues of stranded costs, wholesale-versus-retail competition, and divestiture, what subjects kept repeating in the states surveyed?
Taxes. Consumer concerns. Rural cooperatives.